‘Speculative hearsay’: Federal judge rejects 2nd Texas request to block Syrian refugees

© Huseyin Aldemir
A Texas federal judge has denied the state’s request for a restraining order to block entry to Syrian refugees. The court ruled the evidence provided by Texas Attorney General was “largely speculative hearsay.”

In his second request made on behalf of Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Attorney General Kenneth Paxton argued that “terrorists could have infiltrated” the refugee program and could commit acts of terrorism.

Texas authorities have accused the US government of ignoring its obligations to consult with local officials about the resettlement of Syrian refugees. However, the court has rejected the argument, saying that the commission had failed to prove its claim about terrorists.

“The Court finds that the evidence before it is largely speculative hearsay,” US District Judge David Godbey wrote in the two-page ruling. “The commission has failed to show by competent evidence that any terrorists actually have infiltrated the refugee program, much less that these particular refugees are terrorists’ intent on causing harm.”

According to the Dallas Morning News, Attorney General Paxton cited evidence that consisted of statements made by US Rep. Mike McCaul, the House Homeland Security Committee and “security concern” by the Texas Department of Public Safety Deputy Director of Homeland Security.

Nonetheless, Judge Godbey stressed that “the Court does not downplay the risks that terrorism, as a general matter, may pose.”

The request had been filed a day before a family of eight Syrian refugees was set to arrive in Houston. According to the Justice Department, the refugees scheduled to arrive in Texas “consist of displaced Syrian families – children, their parents, and in one case their grandparents – and a single woman who seeks to be reunited with her mother.”

Texas’ first attempt to block two families of Syrian refugees last week was also dropped, and six people arrived on Monday.

In its December 3 filing, the Texas Health and Human Service Commission also accused the federal government of violating its “statutory duty” to “consult regularly” with the state before settling Syrian refugees under the Refugee Act of 1980.

Following the November attacks in Paris, Texas officials have been voicing their opposition to the refugee resettlement program and the actions of the International Rescue Committee, one of 20 private non-profits that helps asylum-seekers to relocate.

Texas was among 30 US states that vowed to not to let Syrian refugees on their territories. The protests triggered a warning from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, which said that barring refugees based on their country of origin or religion would be illegal.